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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

*

that the learners may be able to let the mind rest on each fact
or detail in detachment from the rest. This obviously is a process
of absorption. The next step is Association. When the object
has been kept before the mind as long as is necessary for a proper
knowledge of it, it has then to be associated with any related
objects already known. This is most easily done, Herbart points
out, in the course of free conversation, during which the pupils
tell what comes to their mind in connection with the object. The
mind is no longer concentrated on one object, but is aware in a
general way of the many incidental connections between the
particular object and others. Reflection is just beginning. Next
comes System, when the facts are seen in their proper relations.
The connections suggested by Association are often casual, but
at this stage the distinction between what is essential and what
is casual becomes evident, and the facts get arranged into a unity,
The process of apperception begun in the previous stage is now
complete. Last of all comes what Herbart calls Method : later
Herbartians call it Application. By this Herbart means putting
the System to the test by seeing the place of every fact in it. For
example, once an arithmetical rule has been established (System),
the child has to exercise himself in his knowledge of it with
reference to new examples (Method). By such ways as this, the
process of co-ordinating reflection is brought to completion. The
new experience is assimilated and has become part of the unity
of mind. (Present-day Herbartians have divided the first step
into two, and renamed the others. The Five Formal steps,
according to the nomenclature of Professor Rein, are : Preparation,
Presentation, Association, Condensation, Application.)

Herbart left this doctrine of the formal steps vague in many
respects, and it has been modified and elaborated in various ways
by his successors. The only criticism that need be made here is
that the method does not really solve the problem of unifying the
great interests of life, as Herbart seems to have supposed it did.
It might be quite successfully employed in giving the learner a
personal knowledge of the different subjects of the curriculum,
and yet leave these subjects unconnected. Herbart himself saw
this possibility. " Only too frequently," he says, " do masses of
ideas remain isolated despite the fact that the objects corresponding
to them are most intimately and necessarily interconnected "*;

* Outlines, p. 21*.